8 Best Coastal Walks in Cornwall - Paths & Circular Trails

Discover the coastal beauty of Cornwall on foot

Posted on 04-06-24, updated on 05-07-24By: Claire S. | 7 minute read

Coastal Walks in Cornwall

Coastal Walks in Cornwall

Cornwall is a place of natural beauty, with rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, and charming villages waiting to be explored. One of the best ways to truly appreciate the stunning scenery is by taking a coastal walk. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Cornwall offers a variety of paths and circular trails that showcase the best of its coastline. From the iconic South West Coast Path to hidden gems off the beaten track, there's a walk for everyone to enjoy. So lace up your walking shoes and get ready to discover the beauty of Cornwall with these 8 stunning coastal walks!

Tintagel Island Bridge

Tintagel Island Bridge

Tintagel & King Arthur

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.4 miles
Type: Circular

Prepare to be transported into the realm of folklore and legend as you embark on the Tintagel and King Arthur walk in Cornwall. This trail not only offers stunning coastal views but also takes you on a journey through history and myth. As you explore the ruins of Tintagel Castle perched on the rugged cliffs, let your imagination roam free and envision the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Commencing your journey in Tintagel, you will first encounter the National Trust's Old Post Office, an exceptional 14th-century edifice. Subsequently, you will join the South West Coast Path leading to Tintagel Castle—a remarkable and potentially haunted ruin that dates back approximately 1,140 years. This site has profoundly influenced numerous legends and literary works about King Arthur, most notably those penned by Lord Tennyson.

Following your exploration of the castle, descend to the beach at Tintagel Haven where Merlin's enigmatic cave resides. Continue along the coastal path to reach Barras Nose headland for expansive views of the sea. Conclude your walk by heading inland once more towards Tintagel.

Lantic Bay, Cornwall

Lantic Bay, Cornwall

Bodinnick to Fowey

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Distance: 6.1 miles
Type: Circular (includes ferry crossing)

This scenic trail promises not only picturesque views but also a delightful stroll through quaint villages and lush countryside. This picturesque walk maximises the charm of the shaded, wooded creeks that characterise the south coast. Beginning in Bodinnick, it offers breathtaking river views, meandering woodland trails, quaint harbours, and beautiful churches to explore—such as Lanteglos-by-Fowey, famously associated with author Daphne du Maurier's wedding. The invigorating scenery at Pencarrow Head and the cliffs above Lantic Bay is sure to rejuvenate your senses. The coastal path descending towards Polruan provides stunning views over Fowey that are simply mesmerising. Conclude your journey by taking a ferry across to Fowey for further exploration before returning to Bodinnick via another ferry ride.

 Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan Steps

Porthcothan to Mawgan Porth

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.5 miles (one way)
Type: Linear

Embark on the mesmerising Porthcothan to Mawgan Porth walk and let Cornwall's coastal beauty sweep you off your feet! This exhilarating trail offers a glimpse of rugged cliffs, golden sands, and crystal-clear waters that will leave you in awe. Embark on a remarkable one-way journey along the captivating north Cornish coastline, where you will be treated to stunning views of the rugged terrain and the untamed Atlantic Ocean. The highlight of this route is undoubtedly the iconic Bedruthan Steps—a series of striking rock formations and islands scattered across an expansive sandy beach. This coastal stretch holds national significance due to its fossil deposits and rare plant species, which remain preserved within the slumped cliffs that dot your path.

Frequent bus services operate between Porthcothan and Mawgan Porth, ensuring convenient transportation for your return trip. Both locations boast excellent dining options for your enjoyment. Mawgan Porth Beach offers an inviting spot for a refreshing swim, while the cliffside hot tubs at The Scarlet provide a luxurious reprieve for weary muscles.

Mousehole Harbour

Mousehole Harbour

Mousehole to Lamorna

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Distance: 4.8 miles
Type: Circular

This picturesque trail offers a delightful journey through quaint fishing villages, rugged cliffs, and breathtaking seascapes. Discover hidden gems, from colourful boats bobbing in the harbour to majestic views of the ocean stretching into the horizon. Discover this captivating woodland and coastal trek, designed for the adventurous spirits equipped with sturdy walking boots!

Commencing from the idyllic village of Mousehole—with its charming harbour and narrow streets—the path swiftly ascends through fields and woodlands before descending into the picturesque Lamorna Cove. Known for its rocky harbour, whitewashed cottages, and imposing cliffs, Lamorna has long served as a muse for writers and artists such as Rosamunde Pilcher.

The return journey aligns with the renowned South West Coastal Path, meandering through the Kemyel Crease Nature Reserve. This historical site boasts over 100 Victorian gardens adorned with pine trees imported from America; it was once an agricultural haven where donkeys tilled land to cultivate potatoes and flowers destined for London markets. The adventure culminates back in Mousehole where one can relish a hearty meal at any of its excellent dining establishments followed by a refreshing paddle on the beach.

St Michael's Mount , Marazion, Penzance,

St Michael's Mount

Penzance to Marazion

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.7 miles
Type: Linear

Embark on the magical Penzance to Marazion walk and be prepared to be amazed by the stunning scenery that unfolds before you. This coastal trek promises captivating views of the azure waters, sandy shores, and historic landmarks along the way. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of Cornwall as you stroll through charming seaside towns and iconic landmarks. From the charming streets of Penzance to the iconic St Michael's Mount in Marazion, every step is a feast for the senses.

A virtually level stroll along a tarmac path makes this scenic route highly accessible for wheelchair users and those with pushchairs. The walk offers picturesque views of Mounts Bay, St Michael's Mount, the Lizard Peninsula, and Mousehole—making it an ideal family outing. Begin your journey by parking on the waterfront in Penzance and joining the coastal path adjacent to the railway line; keep an eye out for dolphins frolicking in the bay. As you approach Marazion, you will encounter a bird reserve on your left that becomes a haven for migratory birds such as bitterns and swallows during autumn.

Marazion itself is a vibrant village rich with dining options and art galleries. Alternatively, you may prefer to pick up a pasty for a leisurely walk onto the sandy beach before retracing your steps back to Penzance.

South West Coast Path between St Agnes Head and Church Porth.

South West Coast Path between St Agnes Head and Church Porth

St Agnes to Chapel Porth Beach

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6 miles
Type: Linear

Discover hidden coves, ancient mining ruins, and crystal-clear waters that beckon you to dip your toes in. As you meander along this picturesque coastal path, you'll be greeted by rugged cliffs, golden sandy beaches, and dramatic seascapes that will leave you in awe. This round-trip walking route along the St Agnes Heritage Coastline offers breathtaking cliff-top views of the Atlantic Ocean. During the spring, the heathland is adorned with gorse, while in late summer it transforms into a sea of purple heather. Enthusiasts of the BBC adaptation of "Poldark" may recognise this picturesque location as Nampara, Ross Poldark's residence.

Historically significant for its mining activity, this area features the impressive Wheal Coates mine—a well-preserved relic rising dramatically from the cliff's edge, providing ample photo opportunities. The journey culminates at Chapel Porth Beach before returning back; here you can explore an extensive sandy expanse characterised by caves and rock pools revealed during low tide.

Pendour cove from Zennor cliffs

Pendour Cove from Zennor Cliffs

St Ives to Zennor

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous
Distance: 12.6 miles
Type: Circular

As you wander along the rugged cliffs and sandy shores, allow yourself to be enveloped by the peace and tranquillity that this scenic route offers. Discover hidden treasures along the way, from secluded coves to ancient landmarks that whisper tales of Cornwall's rich history. This exceptional and occasionally demanding walk begins in the heart of St Ives, ascending through the town to reach rugged cliffs along the coastal path. The route requires scrambling over rocks at certain points, making sturdy footwear essential and a robust level of fitness advisable. Nonetheless, the journey is immensely rewarding. Along the way, walkers will encounter serene beaches, secluded coves, The Carracks—inhabited by a colony of seals—and even an old leper colony; each turn revealing breathtaking vistas.

The halfway mark is reached at Zennor village where the path diverts inland, rich with enchanting mermaid folklore. Here you can pause at The Tinners Arms—one of Cornwall's oldest pubs—for a much-needed rest and refreshment before continuing your trek via an ancient flower-lined pathway that meanders through picturesque countryside back into St Ives.

Kynance Cove

Kynance Cove

Lizard Point to Kynance Cove

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.4 miles
Type: Circular

Embark on an extraordinary journey along a path that promises awe-inspiring vistas at every step. Commence your walk from the car park in Lizard Village, making your way past the majestic lighthouse to the southernmost point of mainland Britain. Here, you may be fortunate enough to observe a Chough, the emblem of Cornwall, or witness seals leisurely swimming in the ocean.

Continue along the coastal pathway towards the iconic Kynance Cove, passing Pentreath Beach en route where remnants of a shipwreck can sometimes be seen. Upon arrival at Kynance Cove, prepare to be captivated by its turquoise waters, pristine sandy beach, and unique serpentine rock formations. Weather and tides permitting, enjoy a refreshing swim in these crystalline waters before returning via the much quieter heathland route. This leg offers opportunities to encounter rare wildlife and flowers amid serene surroundings as you make your way back to Lizard Village.

Looking for more inspiration?

Cornwall offers some of the most stunning coastal walks in the UK, providing breathtaking views and a sense of tranquillity. The list of walks provided in this blog showcases the diverse beauty that Cornwall has to offer. If you're looking for more ideas on how to make the most of your Cornwall getaway, be sure to check out our other blog posts on things to do and where to go. From things to do in Cornwall to the 5 best walks in Cornwall.

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